Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Truth About A Much-Abused Rambam

Amidst the current furious controversy in Israel regarding the role and responsibilities of charedim vis-a-vis larger society, there is one statement from Rambam that is sometimes invoked by rabbinic figures and spokesmen in support of the charedi approach. Unfortunately, it is entirely distorted. (Note that I am not claiming that Rambam's true view is to be adopted in practice - as shall be explained, his was an extreme view. The point is that Rambam certainly does not provide justification for the charedi approach on either exemptions from military service or receiving money for studying Torah, which is utterly at odds with his position.)

The statement is from the very end of Hilchos Shemittah Ve'Yovel. It follows a halachah where Rambam notes that the tribe of Levi did not receive a share of the Land of Israel to develop, nor serve in the army, but instead their role was to serve God and teach Torah to Israel. Rambam follows this by stating as follows:
Not only the Tribe of Levi, but each and every individual human being, whose spirit moves him and whose knowledge gives him understanding to set himself apart in order to stand before the Lord, to serve Him, to worship Him, and to know Him, who walks upright as God created him to do, and releases himself from the yoke of the many foolish considerations which trouble people - such an individual is as consecrated as the Holy of Holies, and his portion and inheritance shall be in the Lord forever and ever. The Lord will grant him adequate sustenance in this world, just as He granted to the priests and to the Levites. Thus did David, peace upon him, say, "O Lord, the portion of my inheritance and of my cup, You maintain my lot."
This is cited by many people to prove that, according to Rambam, anyone who wants to devote themselves to studying Torah, and reach the pinnacle of Jewish existence, does not need to serve in the army, and should be financially supported by the rest of the Jewish People, just as the tribe of Levi was supported by the rest of Israel.

However, Rambam does not, and could not, mean anything of the sort.

First of all, Rambam is very clear about his views on taking money for engaging in Torah:
One who makes up his mind to involve himself with Torah and not to work, and to support himself from charity, has profaned God’s Name and brought the Torah into contempt, extinguished the light of religion, brought evil upon himself, and has taken away his life from the World-to-Come... (Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:10)
Rambam was somewhat of an aberration from normative tradition in his views on these matters, but not as much as one might think. He does, reluctantly, permit teaching the Written Torah for money, where such is the norm, and although he opposes receiving money for teaching Oral Torah, he does not do so with the same vehemence that he opposes taking money for studying Torah (Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:8-10). Other Rishonim and Acharonim often permitted taking money for teaching Torah, though almost never for studying Torah. In any case, it is clear that Rambam viewed a lifestyle of being supported in studying Torah via charitable donations - the modern kollel system - as being utterly, utterly wrong. (This is even though the state of Torah study in his part of the world was generally rather poor, especially compared to today.)

What, then, is Rambam talking about at the end of Hilchos Shemittah Ve'Yovel?

First of all, he is not making a halachic statement here at all. As is common with the closing paragraphs of the different sections of the Mishneh Torah, Rambam here is presenting mussar rather than halachah. He is not contradicting, or even qualifying, the halachos regarding taking money for Torah that he discussed in Hilchos Talmud Torah chapter 1, nor the halachos regarding going to the army that he discusses in Hilchos Melachim u'Milchamos chapter 7. Instead, he is praising an ideal - which certainly does not include taking money for Torah, as he has already made clear.

But what is the comparison with the tribe of Levi? First of all, it is not a complete comparison. It does not, for example, include an exemption from military duty in either milchemes reshus or milchemes mitzvah (since it is not mentioned in Hilchos Melachim u'Milchamos). Rather, it is a comparison vis-a-vis devoting one's life to God. It is a comparison vis-a-vis mussar goals and ideals, not halachic exemptions.

Second, insofar as Rambam does equate Torah scholars with the tribe of Levi with regard to material sustenance, he makes the meaning of this clear elsewhere:
Anyone who makes economic use of the honor of the Torah takes his life from this world... However, the Torah permits scholars to give their money to others to invest in profitable businesses (on their behalf)... and to receive priority in buying and selling merchandise in the marketplace. These are benefits that God granted them, just as He granted the offering to the Kohanim and the tithes to the Levite... for merchants occasionally do such things for each other as a courtesy, even if there is no Torah scholarship to warrant it. A Torah scholar should certainly be treated at least as well as a respectable ignoramus. (Commentary to the Mishnah, Avos 4:7)
In Rambam's view, Torah scholars, like Kohanim and Leviim, receive benefits, but the benefits are of a different nature. They involve the investment of funds, and assistance in business, rather than financial grants. (This is similar to the Yissacher-Zevulun relationship, which, according to Chazal, was nothing at all like it is popularized today; rather, it involved Zevulun marketing the produce that Yissacher farmed.)

What about Rambam himself? There is a widespread belief that he was entirely dedicated to his studies, supported by his brother, until his brother died at sea and Rambam was forced to provide for both his own and his brothers’ families, whereupon he began to work as a doctor. But this is not the case. Rambam learned medicine while his family was still living in Morocco. Upon moving to Egypt, Rambam soon rose to prominence as a physician. He also traded in gemstones, and his brother assisted with his investments, enabling him to devote much time to his studies. At no point was he simply receiving money from his brother. His brother was simply investing Rambam's own merchandise and earnings, just as Rambam permits Torah scholars to have done on their behalf.

(Incidentally, Rambam in Hilchos Shemittah Ve'Yovel is not even only talking about Jews; he speaks about "anyone in the world." He is actually referring to anyone, Jew or non-Jew, seeking an ascetic lifestyle of the pursuit of knowledge. See further discussion here.)

In conclusion: In Hilchos Shemittah VeYovel, Rambam is not remotely describing someone studying in kollel, being exempt from military duty and supported by charitable contributions. His view on this remains as he expresses it elsewhere: that such a person "has profaned God’s Name and brought the Torah into contempt."

UPDATE: See too this post: What Does The Torah Tribe Do?

Further sources/ resources:


  1. the rambam clearly states that "the lord" will supply them with their needs. a gvir interviewed a prospective son in law that was learning. when his wife asked him what he thought, he told her that young man was nice enough but that when he asked how he planned to support a family he answered that "gutt vill helfen". the problem is that he thinks that i am "gutt".

    1. That story is equivalent to ... a story. its aggadic in style. what do you intend to prove in using non literal literature literally?

  2. On a visit to Lakewood NJ some years ago, where I visited very religious (not exactly Haredi, but very Yeshivish, but not modern - what group?) my cousin explained to his young daughter (about 10 years old) the story of how Rabbi Akiva's wife supported him as he learned Torah. He said it was the model of how a wife should act: she should support her husband in full time Torah learning.

    He himself worked hard (commuting outside of Lakewood) to support his wife and large family.

    It is true that Rabbi Akiva's wife supported his learning, but he was a Baal Tshuvah after having worked all his life as a shephard - so I understood.

  3. In addition to these considerations is the great irony that these very same people who erroneously cite this Rambam are hasty to trot out the cliche maxim, "We don't pasken like the Rambam" when a different view of the gemara is proposed or a more simplified/rationalist rendering of a halacha, or a justification to discard a mistaken so-called "minhag" etc. It's always "we don't pasken like the Rambam" in every case of course except where we can find no justification for the "system" we enjoy or have vested interest in and therefore have no choice but to twist one of his statements and claim it supports us. Such thick irony.

  4. What of the argument that the intro to the MT states that it is a halachic work, therefore, the passage at issue cannot be mussar? Is the response that the MT never states that it exclusively is a halachic work? Thanks!

  5. What about the "Rabbanut" should it be dissolved and or not supported by the community/tax dollars ?

  6. You're so cute. Thinking truth matters.

    It should be perfectly clear that Charedim are like most people in that they will cherry-pick the parts that seem to agree with them and ignore the rest. It really should surprise no one that Charedim have different Minhagim (e.g. strict adherence to Chumros, made-up and otherwise), but are otherwise no different than any other group.

    I think it's a really sad commentary on non-Charedi Orthodox that they see the Levush and think that the Jew must be holier, more in tune with Hashem and overall a better person. Frankly, seeing someone dress like a Ukrainian in Bet Shemesh heat has me worried a bit about their mental health.

  7. Questions: Is there a halachic difference between learning Torah and then taking charity (relying on matanot l'ani'im) and being paid to learn Torah (taking a salary for it)?

    Are they exactly the same (accd. to the Rambam or others)? Are they different but both condemned?

    In any case, how do kollels themselves halachically justify their students taking a salary for learning? With teaching, it's justified based on the loophole of taking money for "babysitting". What's the equivalent for kollel - being paid to generate body heat? (Phrased as a joke but actually a serious question. )


  8. there are commentators who write on these words "the Lord, and not the community".

    how this is turned into halacha l'ma'aseh i am not sure. hesder yeshivot receive funding from the government. is that permitted? what about someone receiving a scholarship to do a PhD in Talmud at Hebrew U, a process which can take 10 years?

  9. Rambam himself was supported by his brother David, who was a diamond merchant, until his brother was lost at sea. Thus he obviously approved of the current notion of an Issachar-Zevulun contract. Of course, the learner would have to learn at he level at which the businessman expected.

  10. Rambam himself was supported by his brother

    No, he wasn't. Didn't you read the post before commenting on it?

  11. Rad as states that this Halacha means that God will provide and what Rambam forbade in hold how Talmud Torah, was placing oneself on the tzibbur. - so Rambam would clearly forbid taxing people to support kollel.
    On the flip side, kessef Mishnah argues that either Rambam is a minority opinion, and backs it up with many proofs. Or that we don't go with the Rambam for practical reasons because if scholars wouldn't be supported Torah would have been forgotten.

  12. See also: that appears on the Maimonides Heritage Center web site.

  13. Here is a quote from an article of R' Aharon Lichtenstein on exemptions for yeshiva students (Tradition, Fall 1985) related to this Rambam:

    Finally, even if we grant that the Rambam's statement does imply a categorical dispensation in purely halachic terms, it remains of little practical significance. We have yet to examine just to whom it applies. A levi [sic] is defined genealogically. Those who are equated with him, however, literally or symbolically, are defined by spiritual qualities; and for these the Rambam sets a very high standard indeed. He present an idealized portrait of a selfless, atemporal, almost ethereal person - one whose spirit and intelligence have led him to divest himself of all worldly concerns and who has devoted himself "to stand before God, to serve Him, to worship Him, to know God; and he walks aright as the Lord has made him and he has cast off from his neck the yoke of the many considerations which men have sought." To how large a segment of the Torah community - or, a fortiori, of any community - does this lofty typology apply? To two percent? Five Percent? Can anyone... confront a mirror and tell himself that he ought not to go to the army because he is kodesh kodashim, sanctum sanctorum, in the Rambam's terms? Can anyone with even a touch of vanity or a concern for kavod contend this? Lest I be misunderstood, let me state clearly that I have no quarrel with economic aspiration or with normal human foibles per se. again, least of all do I wish to single out b'nei yeshivot for undeserved moral censure. I do feel, however, that those who would single themselves out for saintliness should examine their credentials by the proper standard

    In essence, RAL's point is that requires a tremendous amount of hubris for a person to say that my learning is so important that I don't need to go to the army and fight, especially when in many other areas the person doesn't show such great faith (as RAL describes). It is very nice for a person to say that they are joining Shevet Levi, but who says that they were accepted?

    For more see Who should be exempt from serving in the army?

  14. Kollel nick: the kessef mishne (and the others that follow his psak) limit the money to the elite of the elite, not guys learning. he states clearly that all the stories in the gemara about rabbis working was BEFORE they became gedolim.

    rav moshe extended this heter to students. did anyone before rav moshe?

  15. There is no contradiction whatsoever in the words of the Rambam. According to the Rambam, payment FOR learning Torah is chazer treif. So when he says that a great tzadik will be provided for by Hashem, he clearly does not mean that the tzadik will be provided payments for his learning. That would be like giving him neveilos u'treifos. Rather, the Rambam means that the tzadik will be provided for in other ways: maybe he will get an inheritance,win the lottery, make an investment that does extraordinarily well, maybe Hashem will do a miracle for him (as He did for R' Shimon bar Yochai), etc. etc. But he will NOT receive payment for learning, no more than he will recieve non-kosher food.

  16. Formerly Sun GardensApril 8, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    "Rambam himself was supported by his brother"

    "No, he wasn't. Didn't you read the post before commenting on it?"

    Rabbi Slifkin, I was just curios to know where you got that information of Rambam's bio? Jehuda Melber in his book the Universality of Maimonides writes in his introductory biography of Rambam "During this period the family was sustained by the father and a younger son who carried on a small jewelry trade. Moses, as the scholar was left free to devote himself to learning." And further " With David's demise the family fortune of jewels and money disappeared. Maimonides was now confronted with the problem of sustaining the whole family. He decided to put into practice his medical knowlege..."

  17. Hi FSG, please see the linked monograph, where I have all the sources. (You can also come to my house to check them out!)

  18. @Ben Waxman
    1. You are reading the Kesef Mishneh correctly - historically. But it makes no sense for it to be prohibited for a student and permitted for a teacher. KM is merely explaining the cotradiction between sugyos.
    2. The second answer - es laasos..., which he seems to decide like, as he cites Rambam's position in SA, can be taken pretty far. I disagree with many aspects of the kollel system, yet I admit that parts of it must be maintained for Torah to be preserved. The whole debate need not be black and white. it is highly unlikely that some of our great poskim would have achieved their greatness had they not had a bit of support when they were students, and the fact is that we need them.

  19. Rabbi Slifkin: I basically agree with you, but I think you should reread Herbert Davidson's biography of the Rambam, pp.32-35. Davidson cites the Rambam's letter to Yefet ha-Dayyan, where he writes
    that his brother "would conduct business in the marketplace and earn money, while I sat in security." True, later on in the letter he writes that when his brother died in the shipwreck, "he had with him a large sum of money belonging to me, him, and others." How much belonged to the Rambam and how much to his brother and others is unclear.

    Also, during his first years in Egypt from 1167-177 the Rambam was working full time on the MT and did not have any time left for anything else.

    Finally, Davidson shows that the claim that the Rambam began to practice as a physician soon after arriving in Egypt has no basis.

    Lawrence Kaplan

  20. But it makes no sense for it to be prohibited for a student and permitted for a teacher.

    Of course it makes sense! The teacher is (a) putting himself out and (b) benefiting others!

  21. Thanks for the sources, the iggeres to rav yefes seems pretty clear.

  22. Rabbi Slifkin: I just checked the sources cited in your monograph. I note you do not cite Davidson whose view regarding this matter appears to differ from that offered by Kramer.

    Lawrence Kaplan

  23. I'll have to check. But I think that it's reasonable to presume that Rambam was not a hypocrite!

  24. At the end of the day is it really a problem of consistency if the Rambam received money from his brother? After all, receiving money from immediate family is not necessarily in contradiction to Rambam's hard line in Mishna Torah against taking charity from the words of Torah, which may only apply in the relationship between the Scholar and the Klal. Can it really be considered charity to receive money from your brother, for whom it is only natural to give? Rambam's polemics seem to be more aimed at the scholar imposing on the community.

  25. Prof. Kaplan - not having seen Davidson, I wonder if, kedarko bakodesh, he claims that the paragraph at the end of shmitta veyovel was written by someone else?

  26. @Rabbi Slifkin
    The issur is deriving benefit from Torah. Has nothing to do with putting himself out, or benefiting others.

    Kessef Mishneh states that they gave only the greatest ones because there were too many to support. Not because teachers can derive benefit and students cannot. According to this answer of KM, it is only prohibited if one can support himself, and still takes, or if he learned specifically for benefit (KM states this clearly).

  27. I'm with FSG and do not see any hypocrisy or inconsistency. The point, in any event, is that once the Rambam's brother died, he worked for a living as a doctor and did not rely on the community.

    Lawrence Kaplan

  28. Thanbo: Of course not! See Davidson, p. 257.

    Lawrence Kaplan

  29. This is a beautiful account of the Rambam's views and indeed the only account that can reconcile his seemingly contradictory statements.

    Rambam meant for everybody to work and study Torah. No Kollel. For those select few for whom God provides, they should study. The proof is that provision for the purpose of study is provided (not by charity or by government support mind you) but out of some other mechanism.

    It is similar to Rambam's views on how you can distinguish a Navi. If the words spoken come to pass, he is a Navi, if not he is'nt. In other words the proof is in the pudding. If an individual wishes to serve God and God provides for him then he may study full time. If not...he cannot and it will lead to grave sin to do so.

  30. Slifkin: "But I think that it's reasonable to presume that Rambam was not a hypocrite!"

    Maimonides (Avodat Kokhavim 2:2,3): “One is forbidden to read any work that may cause one to reject a tenet of the Torah.”

    From a man who clearly read Muslim philosophers, the works of the neo-Platonists, anything he could get his hands on that related to Aristotle - yeah, I'm going to say that Rambam was at least slightly inconsistent.

    (Hey, people make exceptions for themselves!)

  31. the fact that RaMbaM took support from his brother is not contradictory to what RaMbaM wrote for he saw himself on that level to be supported. His son Rabbeinu Avarohom ban HaRaMbam in Hamaspig LaOvdei HaShem writes that 10people should indeed be supported by the entire community for they are the torah of the community. the people depended on them, for if someone wouldn't make it to shul, these 10 would be there for the minyan at all times. But according to RaMbam and Rabbeinu Avarohom, one can't simply apply for this "kolel" and be exempt from all duties. He must prove himself worthy of such a opportunity. I assume all of the 10 hHasidim were of the same hHasidic mentality and life style as described in Hamaspig and by RaMbaM through the Mt and his other writings. All did koreem umeeshtahHaweem as described by RaMbaM and his son in Hamaspig. these people who did it and prescribed to this type of lifestyle described in Hamaspig, is for sure what RaMbaM is describing in this specific case which you quote in the Mt. Rabbeinu Avarohom says the ego and ignorance of the people dissuades them from being proper servants of HaShem, therefore they don't bow down like said in Mt and Hamaspig. therefore they wouldn't make it to the 10 being supported by the entire community, so I assume. thoughts and comments appreciated.

  32. Rand, that is not at all an inconsistency. The Rambam had a clear heter to learn those works based on the concept of Li-havin U-li-horot.

  33. The charedi reading of the Rambam goes against the Radbaz:

    ויזכה לו בעוה"ז דבר המספיק לו. שהקב"ה יזכה לו להרויח בעולם דבר המספיק לו ולא שישליך עצמו על הציבור. ועיין במה שכתב בפירוש למשנת ולא קרדום לחתוך בו

    He says Hashem will provide, and he should not need to depend on community funds.

    But why depend on a major Rishon when we've got contemporary gedolim? HaGaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky in his קרית מלך on the sources of the Mishneh Torah, writes:
    ויזכה לו בעוה״ז כו', עי׳ ע״ז י״ט כ׳ דבר זה כתוב בתורה ושנוי בנביאים ומשולש בכתובים כל העוסק בתורה נכסיו מצליחין לו

    See the חתם סופר on פרשת ראה ד"ה וברכך:

    לת"ח שעוסק בתורה די אם ינסה רק לעשות דבר ויהא מבורך כדי שלא יתבטל מדברי תורה כמו שאחז״ל ברש״י [ביצה דף ט"ו ע״ב] העוסק בתורה נכסיו מצליחין

    Again, he writes that Hashem will bless the Torah Scholar's endeavors so that they be free to continue studying.

    And R' Ephraim Greenblatt writes in חלק ז page שמט :

    ואם האדם הוא מאמין בהשגתה הש״י, ועושה תורתו עיקר ומלאכתו עראי, הנה באמת עוזר לו הש״י שבאיזה שעות ביום שעוסק בפרנסה במתינות יהיה לו יותר ממי שיעמול בכבידות תמיד יומם ולילה, כמו שאמרו חז״ל (ע״ז י׳יט) כל העוסק בתורה נכסיו מצליתין

    (Of course, all this doesn't mean we should support Torah study. It just means the cited Rambam is not a true prooftext for such support.)

  34. I don't see how the above is Halacically relevent.

    See Remah Yo"d 246:21, where he permits taking money for ones own learning.

    Also see Be'er Halacha 156:

    סופה בטלה וגוררת עון - כתבו הספרים שזהו נאמר לכלל העולם שאין כולם יכולים לזכות לעלות למדרגה רמה זו להיות עסקם רק בתורה לבדה אבל אנשים יחידים יוכל להמצא בכל עת באופן זה [וזהו שאמרו בברכות ל"ו ע"ב הרבה עשו כרשב"י ולא עלתה בידן ר"ל דוקא הרבה] והקב"ה בודאי ימציא להם פרנסתם וכעין זה כתב הרמב"ם פי"ג מהלכות שמיטין ויובלות ולא שבט לוי בלבד וכו' עי"ש ובפרט אם כבר נמצאו אנשים שרוצים להספיק לו צרכיו כדי שיעסוק בתורה בודאי לא שייך זה ויששכר וזבלון יוכיח:

    The Rambam of Shevet Levi -- which is a source relevant to Torah w/o work (תורה שאין עימה מלאכה), or relying on Hashem to learn -- isn't necessarily contested as is his opinion on taking money for Torah.

    It's clear that's what the Mishna Berura above held.

  35. Right so the founders of the modern day kollel movement all got the halacha wrong.
    Ponevezer Rav, Chazon Ish and Rav Dessler (who i think you deem a rationalist) all misunderstood halacha???
    Ok so your going to respond that the kollel movement was not as big then as it is today, but you explained in your post its ossur to take money for learning why then should one diffrenciate between 5000 or 25000, if its forbidden its forbidden. Period.
    So they all got it wrong....why on earth did i not think of that?
    But of course to collect funding for an animal encyclopedia thats ok because its helping others......?
    I couldnt make it up even if i tried.

  36. They instituted the kollel system as a hora'as sha'ah, due to the destruction of Torah in the Holocaust - Eis l'asos l'Hashem.

  37. "But what is the comparison with the tribe of Levi? First of all, it is not a complete comparison. It does not, for example, include an exemption from military duty in either milchemes reshus or milchemes mitzvah (since it is not mentioned in Hilchos Melachim u'Milchamos). Rather, it is a comparison vis-a-vis devoting one's life to God. It is a comparison vis-a-vis mussar goals and ideals, not halachic exemptions."
    The Rambam in no place exempts anybody from military service, michemet reshut or milchemet mitzvah. See hilchot melachim u'milchamot 7,8
    "המחזיר את גרושתו. והמארס אשה האסורה עליו. כגון אלמנה לכהן גדול. גרושה וחלוצה לכהן הדיוט. ממזרת ונתינה לישראל. בת ישראל לממזר ולנתין. אינו חוזר"
    "One who remarries his divorcee or who betrothes one who is forbidden to him, such as a widow to the High Priest, a divorcee or "chalutzah" to a priest, a mamzer or a natin to any Jew...does not return" -- ie these people are not exempt from going to war, which would be possible only in the case of a michemet reshut, as the Rambam says only a few halachot before this one.
    This can also be seen clearly from the Rambam's langage in this halacha, where he says "Levites do not to war as the rest of Israel does" --in context, meaning they do not take spoils from war. The Rambam here explains why they are not allowed to take spoils: because they are expected to live to a higher moral standard when waging war--they do not do war AS THE REST OF ISRAEL DOES, but obviously they do war or where would the spoils come from? Moreover, the Rambam would simply state "they do not wage war." Why does he need to say "as the rest of Israel does"?

    Loved the post though. It bothers me immensely when people use the Rambam to defend something I can imagine him utterly destroying in some harshly worded letter.

  38. Rambam ridicules the person who study's Torah at the expense of the 'communal charity fund' funded with compulsory tax money.

    However, just as one's father-in-law may choose to support his Torah learning, and this would be praiseworthy, so too if any fellow Jew should choose to support someone's learning it is not undesirable, and this wouldn't be "tzedakah" per se.

    What is undesirable is that one not study at the expense of the fund supported by a community taxing its inhabitants to support the poor and education for the young.

    Should however a community member choose to support someone to sit and study Torah full-time, as the burden to support him is not shifted onto the communal charity fund, it is perfectly acceptable and praiseworthy for both the Isachar and Zevulun.

  39. Rabbi Slifkin, I believe that you are not understanding both the language and the intent of the second Rambam that you cite.
    The Rambam speaks of someone who intentionally makes himself a charity case and becomes a burden on the community. He lowers the Kavod of the Torah by causing himself to be a pauper as well as making himself dependent upon others.
    The modern day Kolel system (It is really not so modern. Actually a form of it has been in use in Aleppo for hundreds of years) pays a stipend to people who are willing to be Batlanim. The Shulchan Aruch states that you may not live in a town that does not have at least 10 Batlanim. Batlan usually means someone who does nothing in this case it means someone who doesnt work but learns all day.
    The Kolelim today are very often supported by Gvirim and not by the charity organizations of the community.
    Brocho V'Haslocha

  40. The Kolelim today are very often supported by Gvirim and not by the charity organizations of the community

    the yeshivot themselves get some 1 billion shekels a year in direct funding from the GOI. indirectly, there is a great deal of other types of support including massive discounts in arnona, gannot fees, etc. someone who is in yeshiva but not working reduces the tax base. the issues are endless.

    how many people learned in aleppo and who chose who got to learn? anyone could sign up like today?

    the community in this case gives a great deal of money.

    1. Fundings from the state are freely given by it to support education, including torah education, even if less than other, more academic forms (understandably so, as the investment is for sure less profitable from an economic point of vew). It is not charity.

  41. Michael Gindi: The Asarah batlanim were employed to say kaddish. They were not learning.

    Kollelim are usually supported by charity - whether from "regular Joes" or wealthy gvirim, who would otherwise be giving their tzedakah elsewhere.

  42. "Maimonides (Avodat Kokhavim 2:2,3): “One is forbidden to read any work that may cause one to reject a tenet of the Torah.”

    Maybe one of those oh-so-scary works would cause you to reject a tenet of the Torah (God forbid), but none of those would cause him (or "may cause" him) to reject the Torah, so I don't see how Rambam didn't follow his own advice.

  43. The same conclusion, but in Hebrew, here:


Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.

More Tzedaka Shenanigans

Kupat Ha'ir, the charity with the unfortunate tagline of "100% Pure Tzedaka," sent out an interesting campaign before Rosh H...